Last month, I headed to Athens for my first ever taste of Greece and for some serious exploration. Given my packed schedule and rather ambitious sightseeing plans, I needed a good place to relax in a perfectly central location, and the Herodion Hotel in the picturesque Anafiotika district truly delivered.
This fantastic location is the Herodion’s main draw. Nestled at the foot of the Acropolis, the hotel is spectacularly easy to find thanks to this enormous landmark, which is visible all over the city. Rooms on the upper floors also provide incredible views of this iconic Athenian sight (ask for a room at the back of the hotel), as do the gorgeous roof garden and the fourth floor terrace. On a street parallel to the New Acropolis Museum, the Herodion Hotel is within easy walking distance of this and most other major tourist attractions, including Syntagma Square, the popular Plakka district, Monesteraki Flea Market and all the ancient Greek and Roman sights, not to mention the dozens of excellent cafes, bars and restaurants strung up and down Ermou street. Just ask the staff at the reception desk for some recommendations.
Speaking of the staff, they completely made my stay at the Herodion . Polite, attentive, and so incredibly friendly, all the staff throughout the hotel were fantastic, particularly in the restaurant and on reception. It’s a family-run hotel, so the emphasis at the Herodion is on gracious and personal service, formal enough to fit the elegant setting of the Herodion but friendly enough that I felt very much at home. The man on reception both days I was there remembered my name every time we spoke (a gesture I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t return) in spite of the fact that this is a fairly large hotel with 90 rooms and lots of guests. He and others on reception always made sure to ask me about my day and offer assistance, so coming home to this stylish hotel was a really personal and welcoming experience every time. Having spent my pre-blogging life working in customer service, I’m very fussy about the service I receive and I’m not easily impressed, but that staff member, whose name I wish I’d learnt, was truly lovely and really made my time at the Herodion special.
Not that there’s nothing else special about this hotel, which is absolutely beautiful and very glamorously decorated. From the spacious lobby, all elegant marble tiles and wood-panelled ceilings, to the super classy bar and lounge areas, the atmosphere was one of total sophistication. White walls and lots of open spaces kept things light and airy, while wood and leather trim gave everything a touch of class.
While the downstairs setting was elegant and slightly formal – with service to match – the rooms kept the airy aesthetic and combined it with a slightly more relaxed décor. With the biggest king size bed I’ve ever seen and a soft colour scheme in pale orange and gold, comfort was the name of the game, but the real highlight was the view from my third-floor balcony, which directly overlooked the Acropolis.
By night, this view improved tenfold, with the Parthenon spectacularly lit up against the night sky. Even if you get a front facing room, you can still enjoy this from the rooftop garden and bar, but the best place I found to soak up the stunning views was the fourth floor terrace: home to two enormous outdoor hot-tubs which can be used until about 10pm. After a hard day’s exploring the city, there was nothing better than sinking into the warm waters of my own private hot-tub, complete with funky coloured spotlighting to give the whole thing a surreal and very cool atmosphere. I loved unwinding there, staring out at the picturesque Acropolis, in deliciously warm water in spite of the fairly cold February evening – and rounding everything off with a hot outdoor shower. Bliss!
Surrounding the Herodion was a lively and very pretty neighbourhood of Athenian neoclassical mansions and leafy boulevards, just below the lovely pedestrian street of Dionissiou Aeropagitou, the road to the Acropolis which is a great place for a stroll – especially on weekends when the street is lined with performers, musicians and vendors. Very nearby were art museums and galleries, lots of fabulous cafes and restaurants, plenty of shops, and the fantastic Lalaounis Jewellery Museum, a quirky little museum filled with a huge collection of jewellery and metalwork from Ilias Lalaounis. The entry ticket was included with my stay at the Herodion under their Museum Package, along with entry to the New Acropolis Museum, and both were well worth exploring so I was grateful for the package.
Finally, to the most important part of the day; breakfast, which, at the Herodion , was an indulgent affair combining Grecian and European delicacies to suit all tastes. I loved trying the different Greek cakes and pastries with my coffee every morning, but not until I’d fuelled up with a huge helping of bacon and eggs, of course. Although the hotel was surrounded by dozens of fantastic restaurants, I couldn’t resist the charming setting and impeccable service of the Herodion’s own Atrium restaurant for at least one meal, where I was treated like royalty by the super friendly waiter and where I had, for a surprisingly reasonable fee, an absolutely delicious moussakka which was probably the most traditional meal I ate in Athens, albeit with a slightly modern twist. The restaurant itself felt like something of an indoor garden, with glass walls surrounded by greenery and climbing plants, while a huge tree stood in the middle of the room, stretching out through a cleverly deigned gap in the glass roof. The décor was certainly very different and really creative, while the service was all class and the food – and extensive wine list – were sublime.
Relaxing was easy in the incredible setting of the Herodion. The views, the fantastic service, the beautiful atmosphere and – of course – those hot-tubs, all made for a truly wonderful experience and in spite of my jam-packed schedule over the two days I was able to completely unwind whenever I came back to the hotel. Given the perfect location, this was the ideal place to base myself for two days of intensive exploring, and the little touches of luxury really made the trip perfect. It was a wonderful experience and one I hope to retreat soon – I miss that wonderful view!